The City of West Chicago is ready to assist you in every aspect of opening a new business in our City. This guide provides an overview of the 6 easy steps to opening your doors and the resources available to help you succeed.
We are committed to helping you and your business succeed. City staff offers individualized services tailored to your unique needs. By tapping into a range of useful resources and business development partners, we can help you to consider your target customers, location requirements, financial needs and marketing strategies, and easily help you to negotiate the permitting process.
Step 2: Site Location & Zoning
Choosing the right location can mean the difference between success and failure. We can help you identify an appropriate location. Knowing how a site is zoned is essential. Zoning classifications are the local laws that define how private property can be used. They govern the types of uses that are allowed in business corridors and specify parking and signage allowances and restrictions. The City will help you understand all applicable regulations before you begin seeking permits or licenses, sign a lease or install a sign.
Step 3: Apply
To begin the application process, simply download, complete and submit the Application for Certificate of Occupancy. Once your application has been reviewed, City staff will contact you to schedule an inspection (provided no permitting work is expected). Building and Fire District staff will inspect your space or building to ensure it meets code. Re-inspections may be needed until you are approved for occupancy and can begin moving in. Please complete Step 6 before opening.
Step 4: Permitting
A permit is required if you add or modify your building or structure, but please call us to help you to determine if your project requires a permit. To ensure the most timely and cost-effective process possible, we recommend that you:
+ Hire a professional, state-licensed architect to prepare your plans.
+ Make sure your professional contractor is registered and insured, and has the appropriate experience to fully manage your project.
We offer a free, preliminary needs assessment of prospective locations to all businesses entering or expanding in West Chicago. During this inspection, City staff will assess improvements that may be required. While not intended to be an official inspection of the work required, a review will be included of walkways and stairs, HVAC equipment, electrical, plumbing, windows, doors, all means of egress including aisles, stairs, exit doors ramps and accessibility, fire safety and public health safety for food establishments. Once your permit application—including your architectural drawings—is received, a Plans Examiner will review your drawings and provide a written response detailing any corrections that need to be addressed. Once all necessary corrections have been resubmitted and approved, we will issue your permit.
For larger projects, a City representative is available to meet with your architect and contractor to review the project before you submit permit applications and plans.
Step 5: Inspections
Your permitted project may require a number of professional inspections, such as plumbing, electrical, fire suppression, etc. Be sure you and/or your contractor understand all inspections needed for your project and obtains approvals accordingly.
Step 6: Certificate of Occupancy (CO)
Once you have passed all final inspections and paid the Business Registration and inspection fees, the City will provide a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) verifying that all requirements needed to open have been met.